How To Buy Lobster At A Restaurant | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures How To Buy Lobster At A Restaurant | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods

Also visit our main website,

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Ensure The Tastiest Lobster

Live Lobster
[1] Fresh from the trap, freshly arrived at the restaurant (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea).

Lobster Dinner
[2] No matter the original color of the lobster shell, it will cook up bright red (photo courtesy Sydney Fish Market).

Lobster Dinner
[3] Dining alfresco at Cliff House in Maine (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

  Have you had your fill of lobster this summer?

(Does anyone ever have his or her fill of lobster?)

We’ve previously written about how to buy a lobster from the tank, if you’re taking it home to cook.

If you’re planning to enjoy a lobster dinner at a restaurant, here are tips from a restaurant chef who specializes in lobster.

When we first heard about Chef Shell, we thought it was a nickname complimenting his expertise with shellfish.

However, he actually is Executive Chef Rick Shell, who oversees all culinary operations at Cliff House in Maine.

If you’ve ever sprung for a pricey restaurant lobster, only to have it not live up to your expectations—not sweet, not tender—here is his advice.

Lobster can evoke both casual and sophisticated dining memories. You can be at a picnic table, cracking lobster claws while sipping a cold microbrew; or at the most expensive restaurant in town, dining on lobster risotto with shaved black truffles.

“There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this gift from the ocean,” says Chef Shell.

But there are ways to ensure your lobster is memorable when you dine at a restaurant, he advises:

Weight. Always choose 1-pound lobsters. The meat is the sweetest. Do not venture past the 1.5-pound mark. It’s better to have two smaller lobsters than a larger one. And those big lobsters, that look so impressive and portend a great experience? The least sweet, with the toughest meat.

Preparation. Chef Shell boils the lobster, then places it on a wood fire to roast in the shell. Ask your server how the lobsters are prepared to compare techniques at different establishments.

Chewiness. Lobster should be like velvet, not chewy or tough. Chef shell advises that the usual culprit is overcooking. You can’t tell if the lobster is overcooked until you take a bite, so tell your server to relay that the kitchen should err on the side of undercooking instead of overcooking. In other words: You want soft, succulent meat.

Venue. Pick a place that sells a lot of lobsters: a good seafood restaurant. Even a steak house may be iffy. Look around: If you don’t see lobsters at many tables, it isn’t a fast-mover. It is more likely to be overcooked if the kitchen doesn’t turn them out in numbers; and if it’s a lobster tail instead of a whole lobster, it may come from the freezer.


More tips from Chef Shell:

  • First twist the tail off over a bowl, to catch all of the sweet rich goodness of tomalley (the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas). It is a delicacy that lobster-lovers adore.
  • Flip the tail over and slide the meat out. Eat the tail meat first and let the claws stay intact. This helps to keep them warmer until you’re ready for them. Ready for the claws? Then…
  • Gently twist the claws away from the body. First take the smaller part of the claw and break it off. This will also drain away any extra water, so be ready for that.

  • Use a knife to crack open the claws a instead of a lobster cracker (nut cracker). It does a more efficient and clean job. Take the back of a knife and stand the claw lengthwise. Hit the back of it to split it in two and gently remove the tail meat. Remove the cartilage gently: Simply wiggle back and forth and it will come out.
  • On to the knuckles. This is the hardest part, and where lobster crackers are most useful. Squeeze the knuckle and try to push out the meat.


    From beverage manager Caitlin Hula:

  • “Farmhouse saison beer is a fun pairing. Being from Maine, I highly recommend Allagash Saison or Peak Organic’s Ginger Saison. Both beers have tropical fruit, citrus and a peppery spice that pairs well with lobster.”
  • “If one wanted to go with wine, I suggest a full-bodied, fruit-forward white wine such as viognier.”
    NIBBLE TIP: Viognier (vee-ohn-YAY), from the Rhône Valley of France, is becoming much better known in white wine circles. It is now grown in California, Argentina and Chile, Australia and New Zealand. It is delicious with all fish and shellfish, including sushi.



    Cliff House is a luxury oceanfront destination that looks out over the southern coast of Maine, just over an hour north of Boston and minutes from the famed sandy beaches of Ogunquit.

    It welcomed its first guests in 1872, long before there was a need for garages for automobiles. The property stretches across 70 oceanfront acres atop Bald Head Cliff, overlooking the ocean’s edge and Nubble Lighthouse.

    The beauty and serenity of the location offer a get-away-from-it-all escape. And then there’s the food.

    The Tiller restaurant is suspended above the ocean. With panoramic views, spectacular sunrises, romantic sunsets, and the Atlantic horizon, it offers the perfect Maine oceanfront dining experience.

    With lots of lobster, of course.

      Full Lobster Trap
    [4] Hauling the trap onto the lobster boat (photo courtesy Catch A Piece Of Maine).

    Cliff House

    [5] Cliff House in Maine, just an hour and a few minutes north of Boston (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

    Please follow and like us:
    Pin Share

    Comments are closed.

    The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
    Follow by Email

    © Copyright 2005-2024 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.